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MLS selects IMG Academy as Eastern Hub for 2014 MLS Preseason


Major League Soccer (MLS) has selected IMG Academy as its Eastern hub for the 2014 preseason. MLS teams including the Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, FC Dallas, New England Revolution and Toronto FC are expected to train and compete in a series of friendlies also featuring international clubs beginning in late January and continuing through the end of February. The Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) has allocated funds to MLS that will be used by the league and its teams for a national campaign promoting the preseason.

“We considered several locations to serve as the Eastern home for the preseason and, with consult from our clubs, we chose IMG Academy for the combination of its world-class facilities, ideal weather and engaged community,” said Nelson Rodriguez, Executive Vice President of Competition and Game Operations.

“We are thrilled to be named the official Eastern hub of the MLS preseason,” remarked Scott Dean, Director of Soccer, IMG Academy. “While we remain a leader in player development, we continue to evolve as the preeminent event destination for all levels of the game.”

Echoed Gary Pluchino, Vice President of Business Development, IMG Performance: “From the IMG Cup series to the United Soccer League championship series to the Olympic Development Program, IMG Academy has emerged as the ultimate soccer training and competition venue.”

The Bradenton, Fla.-based IMG Academy is home to the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team. The campus also annually hosts professional teams in a myriad of sports. Individual MLS clubs have trained at IMG Academy, as have international clubs such as Sweden’s Malmö FF, England’s Tottenham Hotspur, and Brazil’s Cruzeiro Esporte Clube. Additionally, IMG Academy is the host site for the United Soccer League’s (USL) largest events, including the Super-Y and Super-20 North American Finals, the W-League and W-20 Championships, PRO Combine, Olympic Development Program camp, and more.

IMG Academy’s 450-acre campus features a 12-field professional soccer complex, as well as the new state-of-the-art IMG Academy Stadium, which seats 5,000 and boasts a broadcast-ready press and hospitality box with coach, press, and radio rooms, as well as VIP suites.

IMG Academy’s continued investment in facilities, combined with an aggressive event recruiting strategy, portend positive gains for the Bradenton Area. Currently, IMG Academy exerts more than a $500 million economic impact on the region. New construction included, IMG Academy’s impact is expected to surge to more than $700 million.

Remarked Elliott Falcione, Executive Director of the Bradenton Area CVB, the area organization contributing funding to the MLS initiative: “We are thrilled to be a part of this unique relationship that will put the Bradenton Area on a national stage and no doubt enhance our market share globally. Initiatives like this allow us to continue to drive new dollars into our community and create opportunities for growth.”

Beyond the food, lodging and travel impact of the visiting teams, the MLS preseason presents unique opportunities for fan engagement and national television and digital coverage, creating a powerful platform for national exposure for the Bradenton Area. A schedule of preseason friendlies will be made available in the coming weeks.

A series of exclusive  MLS Experience Camps at IMG Academy are now available for boys and girls.